Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Kinquering Congs

JP Rangaswamy has sparked an interesting discussion about "King slogans" ("Content is King," "Customer is King," "Anarchy is King," etc.). As a text analysis wonk, I would say that we should consider just what semantics are being attached to “king!” Our general inclination (at least those of us steeped in the history of the American Revolution) is to interpret the noun in the sense of the totalitarian tyrant, who is inclined to ignore any authority other than his own. On the other hand, Hegel was probably responsible for seeding neoconservative ideology: He saw monarchy as the ultimate perfection of governance; but he saw the monarch as a Platonic philosopher-king who knew how to draw upon the resources of good advice. I, for one, do not see “the customer” as any sort of philosopher-king; and, while I see some of the virtue in “empowering” the customer, my guess is that most customers would try to leverage any power they get into tyranny. This semantic diversity should provide enough motivation to drop the term entirely! At the end of the day, these slogans are there to persuade us how to set our priorities; but they blithely overlook the contextual premise that the priorities we set depend on the actions we wish to take. With that in mind, I would reject all "King slogans;" and, if we really need to live my a slogan, then I would propose: No Action without Prior Communication! I cannot imagine either a business or a government that would not benefit from being reminded of such a priority!

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